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Libertarian Morphew challenges Republican Leming for District 13 seat on Washington County Quorum Court

by Tom Sissom | October 20, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
Willie Leming

FAYETTEVILLE -- Libertarian party candidate James Morphew is challenging Republican Willie Leming for the District 13 seat on the Washington County Quorum Court.

Leming was unopposed in the Republican Party primary.

The Quorum Court is the legislative body of county government and is composed of members called justices of the peace, who are elected to two-year terms. The 15-member Washington County Quorum Court has four Democrats and 11 Republicans.

District 13 includes parts of western Washington County, including Prairie Grove and Lincoln.

Early voting starts Monday. Election Day is Nov. 8.

Leming, who currently serves on the Quorum Court, said he's running for another term because he has unfinished business.

"I want to see the jail finished and built, and I want to see the Road Department taken care of," he said.

Morphew said he decided to run as a Libertarian because members of both the Republican and Democratic parties have neglected county business on the Quorum Court.

"They are too interested in passing nonbinding resolutions and getting in fights with people over things that have nothing to do with the county," he said.

The candidates had differing opinions on one of the biggest issues facing Washington County, a proposed expansion of the county jail.

The Quorum Court in July approved setting a Nov. 8 special election on a proposal to issue of up to $113.5 million in bonds for a jail expansion and up to $28.5 million in bonds for a Juvenile Justice Center expansion project. The bonds would be paid by a 0.25% sales tax increase that would expire when the bonds are paid.

Morphew said the county hasn't provided enough concrete information about the project for him to support it.

"I would like to try for something better," he said. "We still need to find the money somewhere else to hire deputies to staff it if we build it. We can't take federal covid-relief money for that. If we misappropriate that money the federal government is going to come asking for it."

Leming said he doesn't like the idea of raising the sales tax but said the jail expansion is needed.

"I don't want to raise taxes," he said. "I don't want to pay taxes. But I'm 100% for it. I would like to see that facility built in my lifetime."

Leming said he also would like to see the county do an inventory and assessment of all county properties and facilities and dispose of any not needed for county services.

Morphew said he wants to see county government concentrate on providing essential services and stop dividing people according to their political party affiliation.

Each justice of the peace represents a district of roughly equal population. Redistricting for justice of the peace seats took place late last year.

Washington County justices of the peace are paid $200 per meeting for Quorum Court and committee meetings they attend.

James Morphew (L)

Age: 43

Residency: Three years in Lincoln

Occupation: Retired, medically separated, from military service

Education: Attended the University of Arkansas

Political Experience: None

Willie Leming (R)

Age: 58

Residency: Washington County resident for 57 years

Occupation: Owner and operator of Leming & Son Trucking

Education: Lincoln High School

Political Experience: Serving second term on Quorum Court


Print Headline: Morphew challenges Leming for District 13 seat on Quorum Court


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